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Growing the Internet 27 July 2015

Net users in APAC want to participate in Internet policymaking

Noelle Francesca De Guzman
By Noelle Francesca De GuzmanSenior Advisor, Policy and External Engagement

Governments in Asia-Pacific have made progress in opening up avenues for public input, but a new study by the Asia-Pacific Bureau suggests that stakeholders want more. The 2015 Asia-Pacific Regional Policy Survey, which collected the views of 3,302 Internet users from different sectors across the region, found that 87% of respondents would like their government to provide greater opportunities for them to be involved in Internet policymaking.

The same number stated that they care about Internet affairs in their own country, but only 28% rated themselves as having good or very good understanding of Internet policymaking processes. Some 90% agreed that policymakers also need a better understanding of Internet issues, with a further 82%  indicating that they were not fully satisfied with their government’s policies regarding the Internet. Such views are valuable as the Internet’s growing applicability to everyday life is expected to result in more states seeking to implement rules and regulations relating to cyberspace.

Governments in particular are seen to have a crucial role in enabling Internet access: some 99% of respondents thought that universal broadband access policies are integral in expanding Internet connectivity to under-served populations; and more than three-fourths believed that states should invest in developing Internet infrastructure, improving Internet speeds and making the Internet more affordable.

The report, released yesterday, found that connectivity continues to be the topmost concern among survey participants, with data protection, e-commerce, over-the-top services and cloud computing also ranking high on users’ radar. These priorities reflect the swiftly maturing online environment in Asia-Pacific. While many developing countries continue to grapple with slow and expensive Internet access, several emerging ones, including India and Indonesia, are also experiencing double-digit growth in Internet penetration. More developed economies like Japan, South Korea and Australia have at least three quarters of their population online, giving rise to policy concerns that are more often associated with increasing Internet ubiquity and utility.

The survey also took a closer look at cybersecurity, an area of growing concern in the region. The issue remains among the top 10 policy topics of interest among respondents, but with some caveats. Notably, 70% of survey participants felt that cybersecurity and civil liberties are equally important. And while 95% felt that government policies for cybersecurity are necessary, an equal number thought that online privacy protection should likewise be guaranteed by national law.

Download the full 2015 Asia-Pacific Regional Policy Survey report here.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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